4P Computing: July 2008 Archives

Three years ago, the IT industry was shocked with a radical idea - a "$100 laptop" designed specifically for education in the developing world. Price would be low and yet quality high, through innovative design mixed with low-cost components, and sales would be focused exclusively on the developing world.

This heretical bombast upset the longstanding computer manufacturing tradition to keep adding functions to maintain high prices in the developed world, while ignoring the developing world. The revolution was lead by One Laptop Per Child and its visionary founder, Nicholas Negroponte, and we now have a whole plethora of revolutionaries - from the upstart Asus to the goliath Intel - who are developing "4P Computers" in response to OLPC's iconic XO Laptop.

4P Computing is a new class of appropriate technology - computing power, performance, portability, and price specificity designed for the realities and markets of the developing world.

Now join Wayan Vota, an expert on ICT in the developing world, in an overview of this revolution, the resulting 4PC's, and their impact on the whole information and communication technology industry:


A special thanks to Alexius International for creating this video.

With the plethora of new 4PC's (computer power, performance, price, and portability perfectly suited for the developing world), coming out of Computex this year, you might be wondering who is the current market leader. Personally, I would have to say its Asus with its popular Eee PC line.

Now that may surprise those that know me as a One Laptop Per Child fanboy, but as I told the Economist in its article "The rise of the low-cost laptop":

By raising the very possibility of a $100 laptop, the XO presented the industry with a challenge. Wayan Vota, founder of OLPCNews.com, an independent website that follows the project, calls the XO a "harbinger of an entirely new class of computers".
As such a harbinger, OLPC took the concept of 4P Computing, first conceptualized by the Simputer, and made it a practical reality with the XO laptop. But in the many missteps we chronicled on OLPC News, it never really commercialized its lead.

Asus has. It took Nicholas Negroponte's basic "$100 laptop" idea, and according to PC Magazine's "Asus Makes Another Eee PC Wave" article, commercialized it beyond anyone's expectations:

"We forecast sales of Eee PCs to double to 10 million units in 2009 with growing demands from both developed and emerging countries," said Jerry Shen, the CEO of Asus. According to a recent report from IDC, Asus shipped around 1.4 million notebooks in the first quarter of 2008 and ranked No.8 in terms of market share.

"In terms of worldwide shipments, it is the first time for a Taiwan IT brand to create such a huge impact in the global market by a single product," said Dickie Chang, the Personal Computing Solutions Analyst for IDC.
Now this doesn't mean that Asus will be the 4PC leader of tomorrow. In fact, the mantle may shift as early as this fall, as other players enter the market. Rumors and reality have everyone from HP to Dell to Toshiba, along with several come-from-nowhere candidates (like Asus, 6 months ago), jumping into the fray.

Only one thing is certain: The XO and its direct competitor, the Classmate PC, are, sadly, not going to be in the lead.

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